Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published March 14th 2012
Lent: A Beginner's Guide
The period of Lent is forty-six days long, beginning on Ash Wednesday - the 22nd of February, this year - and ending at Easter. It's a time when Christians practice self-denial in preparation for Holy Week, giving up at least one luxury for the duration. Some give up all material goods beyond the bare essentials, living in sackcloth and eating plain rice, while others content themselves with skipping their morning bagel.
The face of someone who's just eaten some quality cream cheese.
There's no right or wrong way to do it, and whatever your faith, it's a good excuse to test your self-control - or see if your daily latte has turned into a full-blown caffeine addiction. Not only will you save money, you might just reap some unexpected (non-spiritual) benefits along the way. Want to know how to save money, gain a reputation for being socially-conscious, and become a classy city dweller all at the same time? Read on to find out.
Give Up Driving
Don't stop reading just yet. Yes, giving up the car is a Big Deal, worthy of capitals, but think about it - what's more impressive than abstaining from your primary form of transportation? At the very least, your friends will think you're strong-willed. And in Melbourne, you don't really need to drive to get around.
Of course, if you own a car like this, exceptions can be made.
Public transport is everywhere, much cheaper, and - if you don't mind the occasional rowdy drunk or bawling child - a great way to get in touch with your fellow Melbournites. You could even dust off that bicycle you bought during your hipster days and get some exercise - by Easter, you'll have the kind of calves people worship.
Stop Eating Meat
Is there a better way to gain artsy Melbourne cred than going vegetarian for a brief period? Really, there's no downside to this one. You'll save money, probably eat a little healthier, and, when Easter rolls around, imagine how good that long-awaited steak will taste. Besides, Melbourne is famous for its vegetarian restaurants. Try the ludicrously good pumpkinopita from Soul Food Cafe, or sample the tofu asada burrito at Trippy Taco.
Or just make like a rabbit and eat everything raw.
Use this time to get decadent: experiment with foods you've never tried before, from countries you can't locate on a map. Thailand and Africa offer some really good vegetarian dishes, for instance. And if you're really dying for some good old animal flesh, Yong Green Food has faux chicken that tastes (almost) like the real thing.
Take A Break From Beer
Giving up beer for a month sounds very impressive - to the untrained and un-suspicious listener, it sounds like you're abstaining from alcohol of all kinds. Fortunately, you've left yourself a loophole you could jam a camel through: mead, wine, and hard liquor are still totally allowed. Why not develop a taste for fine scotch, or go on a tour of Melbourne's wine bars? You'll develop into a more cultured person - or, at the very least, more pretentious.
Just nod slowly and say it's got "fine oak notes". Works every time.
We've all been warned as teenagers that peer pressure is a mighty force that can cause us to do unbelievable things - snorting dishwasher powder, jumping off cliffs - so why not harness it for a positive purpose, like losing a few pounds or saving a few pennies? Certainly we could all use a little more self-denial in our lives. And, after all, it's only until Easter.